Wednesday night. After one of the most intense days in 2020, I’m watching Lithuanian highway lights passing by, asking myself how did I end up here. When it comes to decision making, mine could be described as quick but rarely impulsive. It must feel right. This one was no exception. Back in March, when the first lockdown was announced, everyone urged me to go back to Lithuania. I say ‘go back’ because it felt like a step backwards. I was not in a good place and going back was an equivalent of giving up. Which is why when the second lockdown was announced it was the last thing on my mind. Nobody even mentioned it.

So what changed? Let’s rewind 48 hours to Monday evening. I’m doing my weekly grocery shopping, preparing for lockdown 2.0, taking photos of the plant I got the day before. A notification from the camera roll informs me that on this day four years ago I was on a plane headed to an island off the coast of West Africa. It made me think about how I miss flying and I’m not the kind of person who sits around thinking about missing things. I have a day off on Wednesday and there is one place I can go to even in the middle of the pandemic.

Whilst my heart breaks a little every time I leave London, I haven’t been to Lithuania in over a year and I knew that if I won’t go back for Christmas it’ll be another year when I’ll spend the day feeling somewhat guilty. I strongly feel that it’s healthy to change our environment every once in a while. Being in Lithuania always force me to face the reality and feel grounded. It’s a reminder I need every once in a while, a part of my identity I’m not ready to let go of just yet. A few phone calls and browser clicks later the decision was made. Only four people knew about it. This is the part where I mention the privilege of being able to work from home and colleagues who support my need for growth.

Fast forward. It’s Wednesday morning. The weather is wonderful and my bags are packed for the evening flight. I run some errands, deliver my first lecture to university students. In the afternoon, take a walk around the South Bank and go see the Warhol exhibition at the Tate. If you know me you’ll know I’m always early and truly take pride in my time management skills. This makes what happened next even funnier. I don’t know why I thought it will take me 30min to get to the airport when it takes an hour and a half. Without traffic. I failed to consider the traffic. I’ve never manifested anything in my life as much as I’ve manifested getting on the plane that day.

By the time I got to the airport, I had 3min to spare before the baggage check in closed. Since I lost my luggage scales I estimated the weight, no clue how it was okay. I’m always so well organized it takes me 5 minutes to go through security, this time it took at least fifteen because they had to keep reminding me of things. I don’t know where my mind was at. On the bright side, I can now tick all London airports off my list and I even found a water station to refill my bottle before the flight.

Speaking of which, it was the first time I flew with LOT airlines. The reason why I want to get a pilot license one day is that I always feel great in the air but this particular flight was the smoothest flight I’ve ever been on. Even Vilnius airport pleasantly surprised me. 

Please don’t ask me about the moral of this story but since I’ve shared my first lockdown experience it only feels fair to do the same with the second one. Mostly because it’s so different from the first one. If you only take one thing away make it this – if you don’t ask, the answer is always no – it’s your responsibility to change things in your life. 

Dear Gabriele Marija,

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